Because of Bethlehem: Worship Works Wonders
This week we're talking about worship works wonders, but I want to stop first and and just simply asked a question. How many of you got all your Christmas gifts done?
Can I have the rest of you notice those hands? And let me tell you it was just a little bit of Envy. I'm also curious though. How many of you are still worrying about finding the perfect gift for at least one person?
How many of you don't care?
Just some of the looks and I sit here and then you'll notice there's gifts out under the tree in the lobby as we bring a gift for some children not only in the community but in Mexico at the orphanage and NN I think about it what's going to happen when they open their gifts. Is he Christmas and Gifts go hand-in-hand. And as a kid, I don't know about you. I love that reality. It was nothing better than this time of year. I would get nervous though, cuz the Christmas tree would go up and every day I check. And days would go by and there's still nothing there, but eventually eventually the gifts would appear. Nnn as a child, there's that sense of wonder and expectation.
Karen aromin writes in her her Christmas devotional blog she she wrote these words this week. And as I read them I said, I wonder if they resonate at all for you cuz they sure resonated for me. She rice we get so caught up and in this time. This the sense of Christmas in is, in this sense of pressure and expectations and getting it. All right. She wondered what kind of emotions it evokes for you and I and she writes. How about panic? I've only three more Saturdays of shopping before Christmas and I'm never going to get it done or maybe frustration ugh there so many activities this month and we're going to be running all over the place with very little time to just be together as a family at home enjoying each other's company. Or or how about regrets? She writes. Why did I say we'd host the family get together. Now, I have to straighten and scrub this place from top to bottom and make the dessert. I signed up to provide as if I didn't already have enough on my plate. Or MV. I noticed on Facebook the gorgeous holiday decorations. My coworker has at her home. They look like they're straight out of an HDTV Christmas special. And our place it looks like we bought Ours from the clearance being at the second hand store.
So many emotions she writes that can overwhelm Us in this time and in the season. And yet this morning we sang a song. who sang the song and title Angels We Have Heard On High and the words and that song sweetly singing over the plains in the mountains in reply echoing their Joy is strange songs like this and Hark the Herald and others that that speak of of that day and that moment so long ago, When the Christ child was born and what happens? What they did and I don't know if you caught it as we sang is they came and they worshipped. They set aside whatever busy and this was going on in their lives and they came to this manger and a stable and a little town of Bethlehem and they came and they worshipped and so today I want to talk a little bit about worship. And what is it mean? What does it mean for us to come and worship a child born in a manger? I want to go to join with me this morning.
Here's a reality that we need to begin with. The reality is that you and I are all created to worship something. Because God has made us. The question I have is what are we worshipping? Why don't we worship Him? I love that circle around the candles as they were lid and just the attention in the fascination of those children. As they waited for the candle to get lid and then to watch the flame flicker. I just wonder what are you watching and looking for today? And today's world? We're going to turn in our Bibles this morning. And we're going to go to the Gospel of Luke and and we're going to read the story that we heard so long ago in the second chapter of just what happened on that day. Join me as we began and inverse 15. Listen to these words. suddenly a great company of the Heavenly Host prepared appeared with the angel praising God and saying glory to God in the highest heaven and on Earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. And I when the angel had left them and then gone into heaven the shepherd said to one another. Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.
So they hurried off and I found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger. And when they had seen them they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child. And all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherd said to them. But Mary Mary treasured up these things and pondered them in her heart. And the Shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen which were just as they had been told. He runs this reading from the book that we love. Thanks be to God.
So here's the reality this morning. Worship was this gift that the Angels gave Jesus? I could take your outlines and hand you'll find these words there and some more. I love it. It says in the tax that suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angels praising God and saying glory to God in the highest heaven and on Earth peace to those to whom his favor rests. Here's the thing though. The definition of worship is to ascribe Worth to someone or something.
The definition of worship is to ascribe Worth to someone or something. And in the question that I have this morning to wrestle with us how in the world do we? as human beings ascribe Worth to the God who created each and every one of us. Who created the whole earth and all that is how can we truly worship God? That's kind of a challenge this morning. And in this season and there's three things that I'd like to share with you this morning. The first is this. Or the worship God verbally.
There's ways to worship God and there's ways not to worship God but the word of worship God verbally, we've been given a tongue and and were invited to use it. The challenge about that bow is as Jesus points out and Matthew is that we sometimes use it wrong way. And he says he's speaking to the Pharisees in this time. She said you brood of vipers. How can you who are evil say anything good for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of? Which begs the question this morning? What is your heart full of?
Is it full of joy and anticipation? Is it full of Hope and peace? The two candles we lit. Is it full of wonder that God would come himself as a child and walk amongst us? To show just how much God loves each and every one of us. Is that what we're full of? Or are we full of anger and hate and bitter words? There's a challenge in today its world is is to set aside some of the languages in the rhetoric. We see and say you know what? We're not going to go there today. Cuz we want to share a different message with the world. We want to share with the world. Just how much God is to be praised in to be glorified. The Shepherds did exactly that. They came they came and then they did something that sometimes we missing the texts. They went out and they told I told the story how the words in the Old Testament had come true as foretold. They told the story that this child had been born and that the heavens had opened up. And all the Earth was praising the birth of this child named Jesus. So that's the first point this morning. I think so often we get so caught up in the busyness in the doing. That we forgot to go and tell the story to share those words of peace and Hope. And comfort with those that so desperately need it. Here's the second thing. word of worship Him in community We we miss this sometimes if you if you listen to the words again, we we read in the text that there was a Heavenly Host. And then it wasn't the shepherd came. It was Shepherds. Imagi is the plural for Wiseman. And so so we have these communities coming these groups of individuals and people and and then the shepherd's how do I did they come together? But they went out into the world and they told everybody in the community about what it happened. And Paul says to us in Hebrews. It says, you know what let us consider how we may spur one another towards love and good deeds.
Not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another. And all the more as you see the day. That's one of the joys. the joys of this season Is that we get together with family sure. There's the pressure of getting that perfect gift, right and making sure the wrapping paper all looks good and Fitz. But here's the question. in the midst of getting the gift in the midst of opening the gifts. I wonder if you realize the gift you've been given in each other.
I know in our house that for my kids one of the greatest Joys is at this time of year school is out and and the cousins get to gather together. One of the things they love to do is play games. And they'll play games for hours and hours and hours. They can't wait there texting. They'll be texting each other to see who's bringing. What in what we're going to do. We're going to Grandma's house or my mom's house for Christmas to open gifts. But I think they're every bit as excited about not we'll just what they're going to get but the time they're going to spend together. That's the question for us today is as do we cherish that? And do we encourage that and are we going out and doing it? and then the last thing this morning that I want to share with you, is that a way that we can worship was we need to worship Him visibly or demonstrable e And you may think what you're talkin about. Okay. Well for example in a little bit we're going to sing a song. What would it look like if we all started raising her hands over head and clapping come on do it with me. Okay.
Got a little work to do. Only. For some of you that felt perfectly normal. And for some of you you're gone, and I'm not sure if I should be doing this in church. But that's what the psalmist said. They did. Listen to these words. It says in Psalm 63 we are to be lifting up our hands and praise to the Lord. And again, it says the same thing in Psalm 141. As people of God Work Wear to be lifting our hands up to Lord and praise will be lifting our lives up in Praise.
Will be lifting our voices up in price. And so that leads me to ask a question.
You see there's a character in the story. That I think we forget. But it's important for us to remember. That's The Innkeeper. I don't know about you, but he just missed it. He missed the most incredible moment that exist ever existed and ever will happen in this world short of the second coming.
And he said to Jesus's parents Mary and Joseph. He says, you know what? I'm sorry. It's a little late and and there's no room. and I wonder I wonder if Mary and Joseph is shown up on some camels with a couple of servants and and and being lead if if he would have looked and said hi. You know what just a minute. I'll go find a place for you.
I wonder If he is really noticed just how far along she was in her pregnancy. And how tired she must have been after all that time on the donkey on that Journey. Coming from so far if he would have said something differently. I wonder how many of you if if given the opportunity to open your doors to somebody who just needs a place to lay down and rest. I got to close the door like he did or or would you open it? Certainly, if it was for somebody that was pregnant or soon to Bear child. I would hope we would open it. But what about for somebody that is just down on their luck and struggling with life. Are we going to open our door? Are we going to share the food that we have worked so hard to prepare for this season? And then there's a question for me. Who do you know that? I might be alone this Christmas? forgotten
perhaps they've lost a loved one. Or they're the only one left in the area. Who do you know, that would be incredibly blessed to come and to gather around your table and to share a meal with you.
Here's something that I'd like to share with you. I want to share a story with you. It's a story that Max Lucado tells in his book because of Bethlehem. It occurred in 1915. For most of us, we don't know what was going on at that time. But for some of you you might be struck by the day to remember that was a time of war in the world. It was during World War one and it was Christmas Eve.
Headed to town in northern France in a village called leventi. The Germans were facing a group of Royal Welsh fusiliers. Not sure what a foolish salir is. I assume it's a soldier.
And at some point in that evening that day that morning on Christmas Eve somebody on the German side began to sing a Welsh Christmas tune.
And they responded.
and the next thing you knew
soldiers on both sides accept their weapons aside
It came up out of the trenches.
They shook hands. They shared what food and drinks they had. I said hey Tommy and hey Fritz and shared canned corned beef and whatever was be served the sausages on the other side. They shared that food and that drink and they even played a makeshift game of soccer that day so long ago. Here's the thing. that day was made possible because somebody I'm a German side decided to sing this old Welsh hymn.
to sing a hymn of praise just like those angels did. So long ago and here's the reality.
It changed everything.
It changed everything that day in northern France. As brothers sisters today, I got to tell you something when we come and we worship. Everything Changes and everything can change for you today. I don't care where you are or what you're going through or what's happened in your life.
A question though we have to ask is.
Are we willing? You see Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He was born in this manger not this one but a feed trough have no idea what it was like it was probably not on four legs. Probably on the ground. Not because of that love was born. and because of that there's hope today for you and I the question is Are we going to be like The Innkeeper? And so Maddie that turn away? Or will we worship God today?
Will you worship God today or are you willing to let Jesus Christ in your life?
To make your Christmas gift this year the gift of worship not just here on Sunday morning for an hour an hour and a half. But every day as you go about your life, wherever you are and that smile that you share with a neighbor or a friend or that person at the store who you help with the groceries.
Or at work or at school? As you hang out with your friends. Are you going to worship God? Is there going to be a joy and praise in your heart? Is that going to be the gift that will leave on a world? That's so desperately needs to know what it means to worship God. Let us prey.
Heavenly Father we come before you this morning Lord. So thankful that so long ago you came and you were born as a child in a Manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, but got on this particular day. We're just thankful that the heavens burst forth with praise and song and and that Shepherds were captivated and caught up and the and the excitement in the joy such that they too wanted to go and worship.
And then the Magi coming from afar. And Mary and Joseph God who had to be in simple wonder and amazement.
Have you? a child in their arms and yet Lord, we confess. That for whatever reason at times it can be incredibly difficult and hard and the season 2 Step into the joy. To step into the hope and peace that you offer us. foursome, we carry burdens For some it's Guild for Summit shame for Summit sphere. 4 Summits regret
and your car I just asked if you would relieve us of those burdens and and that you would hand us that Incredible Gift of peace that we know can only come from you. So that we two might come and worship you. Worship you with our tongues worship you and Community with friends and family and neighbors and Worship You visibly each and every day of Our Lives. We ask this in Jesus precious name. Amen.
This morning if you're visiting with us.
This is the time when we have the privilege and the honor to come and and to worship god with our gifts and our offerings and it's on invite the praise team to come forward and end in to share their gift of music with us. And I'm going to invite the deacons to come forward.